For the second time this season, the Boston University men’s basketball team split a series with College of the Holy Cross. The Terriers lost 65-82 to the Crusaders Saturday in Worcester, Massachusetts before coming home to Case Gym Sunday to win 68-86 Sunday.
The Terriers were 3-5 in the season going into this weekend — their last series was a sweep over Lafayette College Jan. 23 and 24. Their hiatus was due to a series of COVID-19 related postponements for matches against Holy Cross and Colgate University.
In Saturday’s match at Hart Recreation Center, the Terriers got out to a slow start. They shot 32% from the field in the first half, compared to the home team’s 48%. The Crusaders also shot an impressive 6 of 11 in the first half from behind the arc, totaling 9-17 for the game. The Terriers’ leading scorer, senior guard Javante McCoy, didn’t make a field goal for nearly 15 minutes.
“We’ve got to understand that the games are going to be tough,” head coach Joe Jones said in a press conference Saturday. “When a game gets hard, you have to rely on who you are as a team.”
Despite the Crusaders’ shooting onslaught, the Terriers were only down 34-32 at halftime, making 11-12 free throws. Senior forward Sukhmail Mathon had four offensive rebounds alone upon exiting the first half.
The Crusaders took control in the second half. Senior guard Austin Butler had two steals in the first five minutes that were converted into points. Butler went on to dominate the rest of the game, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Holy Cross started getting to the free-throw line and continued shooting the ball well. The Crusaders widened the lead all the way to the final buzzer, finishing the game 17 points ahead.
The Terriers’ shooting troubles continued in the second half, converting just 36% of their shots from the field and 27% from the three-point line by the end of the game. They also only managed to get a total of four team assists in the entire game.
“In this pandemic … you have to be that team that can do that, that can be off for 20 days and come out and get it done,” Jones said. “The teams that are able to do that are the teams that are going to be playing at the end of the year.”
Back in Boston for the second game, the Terriers came out like a renewed team. McCoy shot a three-pointer on the first possession and from that point on, there wasn’t a single lead change for the rest of the game.
McCoy also helped move the ball around the perimeter with junior guard Jonas Harper. McCoy and Harper found open looks for Mathon and junior forward Walter Whyte in the paint. Mathon and Whyte finished with 11 and 16 points respectively. McCoy finished with 21 points, six assists and four rebounds.
“It feels good,” McCoy said in a postgame conference Sunday. “My mind set is just be aggressive, play my game and just create for others, create for myself.”
The Terriers went into the second half up 45-30 and quickly proved they had little intention of slowing down. The Terriers whole roster contributed to the blowout with 23 points off the bench and 18 team assists.
Defensively, the Terriers were equally as impressive. Mathon led the team with 12 rebounds and kept Butler at bay, finishing with only 12 points.
The Terriers now stand at 4-6, winning 3 of its last 4 games. The ongoing season series with the Crusaders is split at two games apiece and will continue uninterrupted when the Terriers return to Hart Center Arena Wednesday.
“We know we’re better than how we’ve played,” Jones said. “So now let’s try to get into a rhythm and get more consistent with our focus and our discipline on both ends of the ball.